Micro Touch Switch Blade; Personal groomer review

My second grooming aid product review is on the Micro Touch Switch Blade. The Switch Blade is marketed as an 2-in-1 trimmer that can be used anywhere on your body that has hair.

GroomerThe groomer has two cutting surfaces; a large cutter for trimming hair on the back of your neck, your back or even quick trims in between visits to the barber. The smaller cutting surface is good for facial hair, ear and nose hair and keeping sideburns trim and even.

The product as it was sent to me had a couple of trimmer attachments for each cutter. These attachments allows the cutters to cut at different heights or without the attachments you can remove the hair completely.

The orange and black colored Switch blade runs on AA batteries that are not included. It has a flat bottom so that it can stand by itself on a countertop. There is also a 10 piece grooming kit that comes with online orders. I did not receive the kit for review.

The smaller cutter is activated by a pushbutton on/off switch while the larger cutter is activated by sliding the large safety cover up, away from the blade. The small cutter also has a light that shines for those hard to see places.

The body and attachments of the Switch Blade are made of plastic and it is very light in weight. While this is definitely a plus if you were to use this product while travelling, I don’t know how long this product will last over time. I have a personal grooming device that I use several times a week and it has lasted over 10 years. I feel that is because it is made out of better materials than this Switch Blade.

I primarily used the smaller cutter during my testing. Trimming my facial hair and sideburns is the majority of my grooming, aside from shaving. The Switch Blade is easy to use and did a great job of removing hair and straightening sideburns, etc. I wasn’t too pleased with the attachment heights. They were either too long or too short for me. I am used to the length I get from my “normal” trimmer. It isn’t marked with an actual height measurement so I cannot compare my trimmer to the Switch Blade.

In my mind, the pros of the Micro Touch Switch Blade are it’s versatility, light weight and ease of use. It’s Cons are the fact it is battery operated and may not be made of sturdy enough materials for long time use.

See all of the details of the Micro Touch Switch Blade at their website.

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Edwards Havana Nights Wine Tasting & Art Show

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Micro Touch One Safety Razor; Product Review

Micro Touch One, with travel case.

Micro Touch One, with travel case.

These next two blog posts are a bit of a departure from my normal content.

Up first is a review on a men’s safety razor called the Micro Touch One.

I have never used a safety razor before. When I was first old enough to shave, I began with a Norelco Tripleheader electric razor. I think I chose that brand of electric razor because I like the old holiday TV commercials of an elf using the triplehead as a sled, sliding down a hill. Eventually I moved on to inexpensive disposable razors. I used singles, doubles and sometimes went crazy and bought some 5 blade razors.

The one complaint I have always had with these disposables is the fact that the blades would quickly get all gunked up with my whiskers and shaving gel. Sure, It was easy enough to rinse out but, they never seemed to be as clean as when you first take it out of the package.

When the Micro Touch One first came to my house, I was impressed with the packaging and the contents of the kit. The razor itself is very hefty and has an extremely shiny, chrome like finish. The plastic travel case has a mirror mounted on the inside cover and a compartment in the bottom for a generous supply of the safety blades.

The razor is very easy to load a blade into. Simply twist the bottom of the handle and the two butterfly doors open up and the blade drops right in. Close the doors with a reverse twist and you are ready to go.

The blades are extremely sharp and gave me quite possibly, the closest shave I have ever had. The razor rinses out very easily with no residue or stray whiskers left between shaving strokes. I think I liked this result even more than the close shave!

Clean up at the end is equally easy, just twist open the blade compartment and rinse off your blade and you’re done.

This Micro Touch One razor is far and away better than any of the disposable razors I have used and one single blade has lasted longer than the two or three disposables I would use in a week for shaving.

I am very impressed with the quality and performance of this razor and I am seriously considering using this product as my primary razor in the future.

The kit as it was shipped to me costs $19.99 plus S&H and comes with 24 safety blades which could possibly last an entire year. That is a tremendous cost savings and gave me a better shave than I could possibly get with my current disposables.

What do you use to shave with and what do you think of this Micro Touch One? Let me know in the comments!

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Cigar Culture and the Oral History of the Lector

The following is a guest post by Luzzie Normand:

We have all been there.  You are sitting at work gazing at a spreadsheet, staring at a blank word document or idly flipping through a report and your mind begins to wonder.  Your attention begins to shift to the host of tasks that await you when you walk in your front door, to the date you had last weekend, to that vacation that is a few months away to _______  (insert the uncountable plethora of other distractions that can steal your focus and rob you of your productivity).  How do we combat these moments of escapism in the workplace?  We use our iPods, our music streams, the occasional YouTube cat video or a quick refresh of our social medias.

These quick mental breaks can often be just the refresher we need to pound out the rest of those numbers or get through the rest of that year-end earnings report.  But, for the cigar laborers of the early 1900’s these technologically advanced mental distractions did not exist.  The solution?  The Lector.

image016The Lector or the el Lector was an individual who would show up in tandem with laborers of cigar factories, but instead of rolling, stuffing, gluing and packaging the Lector would instead read, and read and read and on the rare occasion, sing.  Lector’s would read over the news of the day, novels of the time and of old and even recite famous poetry from the likes of Emily Dickens or Edgar Allen Poe.

Lectors were highly educated individuals who often spoke two, three or sometimes four different languages.  From their raised platform (the tribuna as it was called) Lectors would entertain the factory workers with loud, booming voices, impressive displays of inflexion, character acting and yes, even the odd song. The grandfather of el Lector was Antonio Leal who first took to the tribuna in 1864 at the Vina Cigar factory of Behucal Cuba.

These lectors fostered a very curious relationship between knowledge and illiteracy of the common cigar worker during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Most of the cigar rollers who worked in factories such as the Vina Cigar plant were largely uneducated.  Growing up in impoverished Cuba, many of these men and women simply did not have the option to acquire the skills to properly read and write.  Because of this, it was often difficult for many Cuban nationals to stay on top of the country’s political climate as well as news from the countries who sought so heavily after their nation’s chief export, the cigar.

Day in and day out, the cigar rollers of these factories would show up to work to be read to, sung to and have modern poetry recited to them.  While perhaps unable to read, it was not uncommon for the average cigar worker to be well versed in classics of the time (Don Quixote, Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo) or up to date on the power struggles going on overseas in England.  What began to emerge was this curious duality of long, often ten hour days of manual labor that was then supplemented with an almost educational atmosphere.

The Lector, unlike the cigar laborers, was not directly paid by the cigar factory.  Instead, the Lector was given a weekly pay-out from the employees of the cigar plant in exchange for their reading throughout their shifts.  These Lectors began to shift into the closest thing that Cuba had to a movie star.  As more and more Lectors began to extend their services to the different factories of Cuba, there would be the occasional standouts.  The Lector who was known for reading in the best dramatic voice, the Lector who read the best news and the Lector who could stay on the tribuna the longest without a need of a break.

As time went on and political ideals shifted, news of other laborer unrest began to slowly be leaked into the daily readings by the Lectors.  The factory workers of Cuba who had known nothing other than their long working hours and minimal pay began to hear news of factory revolts, laborer strikes for better working conditions and higher pay.  Political ideals that were unlike that of Cuba began to be planted in the minds of the Cuban cigar laborer.  Exposure to ideals like socialism and nihilism began to spread throughout the conscious of these workers and it wasn’t long before Cuba began to see protest and revolts of its own.

The owners of these cigar factories quickly put two and two together and 1931 would be marked as the year of the eventual extinction of the cigar Lector.  The cigar moguls grew too fearful of what could become of their empire if the laborers who created it became too informed.  While many did agree that the Lector brought higher levels of productivity to the working environment the implications of what could happen were too high and after debate for about a year the decreed of 1932 put an end to the institution of the Lector.  Tribunas were torn down and replaced with radios, or in some cases, nothing at all.  Soon after the eradication of the Lector, the cigar industry took a huge hit.  Many of these laborers refused to work in the conditions of old and sought work in a variety of other industries.

Today, the Lector is largely an obsolete occupation but it is rumored that a few factories in Cuba still use them, continuing the tradition of providing a wealth of knowledge and the opportunity for modern day cigar rollers to be exposed to all walks of literature, news and poetry.

Luzzie Normand is a cigar enthusiast and freelance blogger. When she isn’t blogging, Luzzie enjoys writing her own serial comic books and slinging ink at tattoo shops.

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Celebrate Halloween at Edwards Havana Nights

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Sax & Cigars at the Westin Hotel

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A classic cocktail oasis

The short, winding pathway led to a nondescript wooden door. I gave a quick rap on the door with my knuckles. Moments later, the door’s peephole opens up and a voice from the other side asks for the password. I speak a pre-arranged phrase, the wooden door opens and my Wife and I are transported 80 years into the past.

We are ushered into the dimly lit space, past sheer curtained private booths and high top tables. We take our place at the bar while our booth is made ready.

The bar is called Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club and it is located in the Hyde Park section of Tampa, FL. It’s modeled after the speakeasies of Prohibition, right down to the period dress of the bartenders and wait staff.

speakeasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

One look at their extensive cocktail menu and I knew I was in for a treat! There before me were the classic cocktails of yesterday, some modern takes on classics and a few concoctions from Ciro’s own staff.

I started off with an Aviation while my Wife ordered one of the most beautifully presented Mojito’s I have ever seen. My cocktail was excellent; a refreshing, lively mix of gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.

Shortly after we received our drinks, we were escorted to our booth. The back of the speakeasy has several private booths of various sizes that are separated by a sheer fabric. Inside the booth is a semi circular couch and a few small tables. On top of the tables is a very cool back lit food menu and another copy of their cocktail book.

We sat down to enjoy our first round of drinks and listened to the 1920’s stylized music playing in the background. We then selected a few of the small plates that Ciro’s offers, to share. I also ordered a Sazerac as I have always wanted to try that drink. The Sazerac is a classic from New Orleans combining Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, Absinthe and simple syrup. I found this to be a nicely balanced cocktail with a good anise kick from the Absinthe.

Towards the end of the evening, we chose a chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and I selected a Vieux Carre as my nightcap. Another New Orleans cocktail, the Vieux Carre is made with Brandy, Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine and just a dash of Peychaud’s and Angostura Bitters. The cocktail paired very well with the fruit and melted chocolate.

My Wife and I were celebrating our 21st Anniversary and I wanted to do something fun and out of the ordinary. Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club certainly fit that bill and we both had a great time. I would go there again just for the cocktails alone. I’m looking forward to future visits as there are still a great many drinks I want to try!

Have you had an experience with a similar type of bar? What do you think about the revival of Prohibition style establishments? Let me know in the comments!

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My search for a good cup of coffee

I’m in a bit of a coffee dilemma. My home roaster has died and it’s not worth repairing. I also cannot replace it for the time being. What am I going to do for my coffee fix ???

There are some great online roasters that offer a good variety of whole coffee beans and I’ll probably use one of them from time to time. But, what if I’m in the mood to go out for a decent cup of coffee?

I only know of three good coffee roasters in the Tampa Bay area. The problem is that none of them are close to my home. I refuse to go to the mega giant that seems to have a presence on every street corner for more reasons than I care to elaborate on in this post. So, until someone opens a good coffee roaster / shop in North Pinellas, I’ll have to plan a coffee excursion whenever I am in Tampa or St. Petersburg.

One such opportunity came up the other weekend. I was in downtown St. Pete with my daughter for a college fair. I knew I was in Kahwa Coffee Roasting territory because they have been winning “Best of the Bay” awards every year since 2010 and I’ve been meaning to try their coffee. I made it a point for my daughter and I to stop in at their Espresso Bar on 2nd Street North on the way home.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon but, the Espresso Bar had about six customers when my daughter and I walked in. The shop has eight or so tables inside and several tables outside. There is a long wooden bar on the left as you walk in where you order and receive your coffee drinks.

kahwah cupMy daughter ordered an iced coffee while I had a cappuccino. We chose an indoor table since it was more comfortable than sitting out in the high humidity of the day. I was very pleased with my choice and I was happy to hear my daughter say “This is really good coffee!” You see, my daughter has never wanted to try my home roasted beans (queue the old Yuban coffee ad from the 1970’s) and generally goes to Starbucks with her friends. I was glad to hear that she could tell a difference between the two.

So, my first trip to a local roaster was a success. Since Kahwa is expanding operations, maybe they can find a location in the Palm Harbor / Clearwater area?

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2nd Annual Tampa Cigar Festival tickets are onsale now!

Tampa Cigar Festival

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Social Media Pet Peeves

Let me first say that I am addicted to social media like many people. I have accounts on more obscure social sites than I can remember.  I enjoy keeping up with friends and meeting people I may not have if not for the internet.

With that being said, there are a few things that really bug me about social media content, here is a short list of my top pet peeves:

1)      “Smart” Phones have made us all idiots

  1. Spelling  errors  - I understand many people, primarily the younger people,  only access social media through their phones. These phones don’t have the best “keyboards” and it’s hard to input text on them. But, would it kill people to review the text before they hit send?

2)      Food Photos

  1. People are obsessed with food. I’ve watched my share of Food Network broadcasts and have even attended Emril Lagasse tapings in the past. Food photos just don’t look good for the most part. Especially if you’ve already eaten most of it and then decide to take a photo.

3)      Slobber on cigar photos

  1. Really? Learn to crop your photos. I take a lot of cigar photos and cross post to my social media networks. No one really needs to see the cap of a cigar, especially afer you’ve been smoking it and the cap is soaking wet and chewed on.

4)      Mass invites on Facebook

  1. Why invite people that live across the country to an event that they will never attend? I know it’s easy to just select all of your friends and press “send” but, I think it would be more meaningful if you selected your followers that are nearby and would actually have the opportunity to attend.

5)      Putting links on Instagram posts

  1. Links on Instagram are not active and you can’t click on them. I for one, would not try and retype some of these URL’s to see the actual content.

6)      A picture is worth a thousand words?

  1. Sometimes, not so much. I enjoy looking at cool and unusual photographs on Instagram but, sometimes I have no idea what I am looking at. It would be nice to have a little idea of what the photo is about.

OK, my little rant is over. You may agree with these items or may not. I would love to hear your opinion as well.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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